Better care for older people and more accountability among care home managers has been urged by new health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
Andrew Lansley’s replacement this week backed his predecessor’s reforms, describing Mr Lansley’s Health and Social Care Act measures as both “right” and “brave”, and supporting a plurality of provision as well as decentralisation.
In his keynote speech at the Conservative party conference, Mr Hunt said: “We will never meet the challenges we face with over a million people trying to meet a thousand targets to satisfy one secretary of state sitting behind his desk in Whitehall.
“Nye Bevan’s vision wasn’t about monopoly provision. It was about universal provision. And to deliver it we must understand the difference between the two.”
Mr Hunt highlighted elderly care treatment and looking after those suffering from dementia as a key priority. Citing a report by the Royal College of Physicians, he said: “The system continues to treat older patients as a surprise, at best, or unwelcome at worst.”
He has asked the Care Quality Commission to look into how to make the NHS and care home providers more accountable. He said: “I need to say this to all managers: you will be held responsible for the care in your establishments.
“You wouldn’t expect to keep your job if you lost control of your finances. Well, don’t expect to keep it if you lose control of your care.”
The secretary of state added that hard truths would be faced up to by the government about “how we are going to pay for social care”.
He did not make any commitment over spending or timescales, but added: “I am proud that next year’s Care and Support Bill will mean that no-one is forced to sell their house in their lifetime to pay for care. A historic change. But we also want to go further and implement the Dilnot cap on social care costs as soon as we are able.”